Pigeons Playing Ping Pong hosted the eighth annual Domefest last weekend, giving their flock of fans three nights of funky jams in the mountains of Bedford, PA. The high-energy band brought a gathering of roughly 1500 psychedelic rock lovers to Fort Royale Farm in Bedford, PA for a summer kickoff weekend of camping, raging and games of ping pong that made this year’s event the biggest and best Domefest yet.
The festival had three stages: the “Dome Stage,” “Flo Art Stage” and “Bamboo Eater Stage.” The Dome Stage was the most intricately-decorated of the three, with trippy regalia hung from every possible piece of the stage. The first evening’s jams were kicked off with some jazzy tunes by Jones for Revival, followed by Broccoli Samurai. The Broccoli boys pleased fans with their cover of the Rick and Morty theme song and Lotus’ “Suitcases.”
Guests ventured down to the stages through a brightly-lit wooden bridge as the sun was setting and the stars made their way out into the sky. The Main Squeeze rocked the stage at 9 p.m. with their smooth and funky beats, ending their set with one of their most popular tracks, “I’ll Take Another.”
Flux Capacitor took the Flo Art Stage, playing three separate thirty-minute sets throughout the night. The Specht brothers got the crowd amped up for Pigeons’ first set of the weekend moving the people to sing along to their covers of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and Toto’s “Africa.”
The first night of Domefest was so hot that Scrambled Greg couldn’t even wear his ever-present pajama pants on stage!
Pigeons began their first set of the weekend with catchy tune “Time to Ride,” getting everyone on their feet and dancing. The crowd cheered as they surprised us with “Havana”> “Somethin For Ya”> “Julia,” tying in some 90s television theme songs from Rugrats and Doug. Pigeons always generates a good mix of funk and trance, and held the crowd in the palms of their hands as they dazed us with “Sunny Day” and brought back their good-feeling vibes with “Ocean Flows.”
SETLIST: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong | Domefest Night 1 | 5/18/17
Time To Ride, Henrietta, Live It Up, Havana > Somethin For Ya > Julia*, Whirled, Landing > Drums > Sunny Day, Zydeko > Chariots of Fire > Zydeko, Ocean Flows
* w/ Rugrats and Doug themes
While half the festival retreated back to their camps to let Pigeons’ mine-altering performance sink in, Aqueous closed out the night one with a late-night set that raged until 3 a.m., leaving just enough time to squeeze in some sleep before the sun rose.
Friday morning was filled with love, as two guests tied the knot under the big white dome at 10 a.m. All guests were invited to attend the first Domefest wedding ceremony, complete with a big blow-up swan. Friday’s shenanigans started off early at 1 p.m. with performances by Squaring the Circle, ShwizZ, G-Nome Project and Electric Love Machine.
Pigeons’ drummer Alex Petropulos showed off edgy rhythms and vocals in his band Puremotion. The saxophone solos charmed the crowd and gave everyone a dish of bluesy jams. Cleveland’s Vibe and Direct started off their first thirty-minute set with a cover of Lotus’ “Nemotode” and delighted fans with their catchy “April Showers” while Justin Roberts painted onstage to the smooth tunes.
Consider the Source strode onstage at 9:15 p.m. and delivered what turned out to be one of the best performances of the weekend. John Ferrara plucked fast heavy chords on the bass while Gabriel Marinstrummed his double-headed guitar. These prog-rock wizards really know how to get a crowd rolling and hyped.
Decked out in their pajama gear after the previous nights literal and metaphorical scorcher, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong rocked our bunny slippers off with their mashup of “Melting Lights”> “King Kong”> “War Pigs”> “King Kong.” Ormont’s vocals went along perfectly with the Black Sabbath cover, followed by a jam on the Star Wars “Cantina Song” that got the crowd bouncing off their feet. The boys treated their fans to “Indiglo” which hasn’t been played in four years, and surprised the adoring crow yet again when they jumped into “Penguins.” Ormont sang some appropriately ad-libbed lyrics (“Need a dome to return to”) in their rendition of “Poseidon,” and closed their set with an encore performance of “Doc>Pajama People>Doc.”
SETLIST: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong | Domefest Night 2 | 5/19/17
Too Long, Melting Lights > King Kong > War Pigs > King Kong, Walk Outside > Sir Real > Walk Outside, Porcupine > Cantina Song > Porcupine, Indiglo* > Schwanthem > Poseidon > Jessica > Poseidon > Offshoot, Penguins > Funkijam > Upfunk
E. Doc > Pajama People > Doc
* Last time played 5/22/2013
Friday’s late night sets on the Bamboo Eater Stage were accompanied by performances from LITZ and Mateo Monk until 4:45 a.m. Classic rock prevailed as the crowd sang along to LITZ’s cover of Pink Floyd‘s “Comfortably Numb” while Monk eased energies with his flute melodies.
The final day of the festival vibrated with love and energy. The mild-weathered day started with jams from The Clock Reads, Mateo Monk, Strange Machines, The Fritz, Swift Technique and Deaf Scene.
Ormont delivered his unforgettable solo Scrambled Greg set with his silly charisma that got the crowd laughing and smiling during the whole act. Keeping it loosey goosey, Ormont humored us about a great intolerance in this world with a funky jingle about lactose-intolerance and his love for cheese. He definitely left the Domefest faithful feeling all cheesy after all was said and done.
Aqueous took the stage at 7:45 p.m., getting the crowd rocking with “Dave’s Song>Origami>Strange Times.” The Buffalo-native guys complemented their set with teases of The Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane” and Rush’s “Closer to the Heart.”
The most energetic set of the whole weekend was Pigeon’s undercover set. None of the fans could have anticipated witnessing 90 thrilling minutes of Phish and Grateful Dead covers. Guitarist Jeremy Schon took lead vocals during their performance of “Sand,” and the boys crushed a unique mashup of “Down with Disease” and “Shakedown Street” (dubbed “Shakedown with Disease”) leading into “Eyes of the World.” It is safe to say that the rest of the Flock would love to see more undercover sets by these guys.
SETLIST: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong | Domefest Night 3 “Undercover” Set | 5/19/17
Help On The Way > Slipknot* > Sand > E-Funk > Shakedown With Disease^ > Eyes of The World > Dancin’ In The Streets > Fluffhead > Slave To The Traffic Light% > Carini > Run Like An Antelope > Slave To The Traffic Light > Down With Disease > Franklin’s Tower > Down With Disease
“Under Cover” set, comprised of takes of Phish and Grateful Dead material.
* w/ Julius and Tweezer teases
^ Down With Disease / Shakedown Street mash up
% First time played
After a 30-minute set break filled by Deaf Scene, Greg, Jeremy, Ben and Alex strode onto the stage adorned in their outrageous pretty pink outfits. Rockin’ a pink tutu, Ormont sang a cover of “Kung Fu Fighting,” breaking the crowd out into fearless dancing and mock karate chopping.
Feeling the love for their fans, Pigeons surprised the crowd with a new, never-before-played song, currently listed as “Untitled” until one clever fan comes up with a fitting name. The Swift Technique horns joined the guys onstage for “Whoopie,” “The Liquid,” and their incredible “Spacejam>The Hop>F.U.>Give it to me Baby>F.U.” segment. Pigeons ended their final set of the festival celebrating the people we love with their mind-blowing encore performance of “Horizon.” The Flock couldn’t have asked for a better ending to the final set of Domefest 2017, and fans cried and cheered as the band rode out their final chords.
SETLIST: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong | Domefest Night 3 “Undercover” Set | 5/19/17
Funk E Zekiel, Burning Up My Time > Kung Fu Fighting > Burning Up My Time > Lightning, Fun In Funk, Untitled New Song, Whoopie*, The Liquid*, Spacejam* > The Hop* > F.U.* > Give It To Me Baby*^ > F.U.*
* w/ Swift Technique horns
^ w/ Nik Greeley (Swift Technique) on vocals
The Flock conveyed positive energy as they packed up their camps the following morning and started their journeys back home. As we looked back one last time at the painted, six-pallet sign that read “Couldn’t We All Just Get Along” while leaving, it was clear that the love and togetherness exuded by Pigeons, their crew, and all the weekend’s talented artists should be seen as an example that everyone in this world should strive to match.
Til next year, Domefest Flock…
*Photos by Brady Cooling Photography